Thursday, April 4, 2013

Welcome to a Mad Hatter's Tea Party


Welcome to Thursday Tea!


Today we are going to “fall down a rabbit hole” and participate in a most famous tea party, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

It is, of course, from the 1865 novel, “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
Cover of the 1898 version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
In the novel a girl named Alice falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. Considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

John Tenniel illustration of the tea party for the book


In Chapter 7, Alice becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. 

Tenniel illustration
The characters give Alice many riddles and stories, including the famous 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?' The Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because Time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.

The Tenniel illustrations look quite different from the images in the 1951 Disney movie, which was not a large success. The film was highly criticized by fans of Lewis Carroll, and British film and literary critics, who accused Disney of "Americanizing" a great work of English literature.

The characters in the movie certainly look different than those in the Tenniel drawings.








Throwing a Mad Hatter's Tea Party is quite popular today, especially as a theme for bridal teas, baby showers, children's parties and charity events. 

Theme decorations are usually quite elaborate and whimsical -- from invitations, to table decorations, to food served, to games played.






Here are some of the food suggested for Mad Hatter Tea Parties:

  • Attach labels with the words 'eat me' and 'drink me' to all kinds of things, like the sugar bowl and bottles.
  • Bake little cupcakes with the words 'eat me' written on them in icing
  • Bake cookies in the shape of the letters EAT ME, teacups, and/or hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades. You can also use cookie cutters to shape sandwiches.
  • Serve lots of tea, edible mushrooms, pepper soup or Mock Turtle soup, oysters, plum-pudding, and a leg of mutton. 
  • Glue the lid on a jar of jam, so nobody is able to open it. You know, the rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday -- but never jam to-day...
  • Make a cake in the shape of a mushroom or teapot. Or a three-tiered cake like in the Disney movie.
  • From a loaf of bread you can create bread-and-butterflies.
  • Boil some eggs and paint them to resemble Humpty Dumpty. You can also have your guests paint the eggs during the party. Alternatively, leave one of the eggs unboiled... surprise when they want to eat it! 
  • Order (or create) some custom made tea bags or tea favors for your guests.
So do pull up a chair around the table, pour yourself a cup of tea from a mismatched teapot into a mismatched cup, choose a cupcake and enjoy today's tea time.




And you just might be inspired to pull your copy of the book from the shelf and reread it. It's not just for kids, you know!

Thanks for stopping in. Could you ever see yourself planning or throwing a Mad Hatter's Tea Party -- whether for a shower, a ladies tea, or as a participant in a charity event?

20 comments:

  1. the disney movie is much toooo frantic to suit me!

    a mad hatter tea party sounds like fun. it's been ages since i read these books, but they do have a place of honor on my shelves.

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    1. I remember my Little Golden Storybook pictures of Alice more than I remember the Disney movie.

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  2. In the mid-70´s, baby showers were not celebrated over here. Today things are different.
    But, as an answer to your question - I´m sorry, I´m terribly much too " adult " in throwing a party you are suggesting. In theory perhaps, in reality perhaps not.

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    1. Ah, come on Mette. Sometimes we have to allow the child in us to surface! But you are right; not everyone would be comfortable with such a theme party.

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  3. I ONLY like parties that have games involved. So I am always asked to be in charge of the games because most adults have to be cajoled into playing them. I have to assure them it will be fun and finally when they go along with it they end up thanking me for a good time. However I would have to have someone else be the "crafty" talented one to put together all of the decorations and eats such as you describe. Sometimes it's fun to be five again!!!

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    1. The next party I have I'm going to have you organize games. Like you, I find most adults are not comfortable becoming involved in games. It IS fun to pretend you're five once in a while.

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  4. I'll have to dig out my childhood book. I know it has the older type illustrations but not sure of the artist who did them.

    I can see using a theme like this for a large tea party, maybe a fund raiser of some kind. I'd ask everyone to wear a hat.

    The phrase "Mad as a Hatter" comes to mind. I wonder about the origin of that, maybe I'll look it up.

    Darla

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    1. You may have already looked up the phrase, but in case you haven't, and for the benefit of others: (From Wikipedia: "Mad as a hatter" is a colloquial phrase used in conversation to refer to a crazy person. In 18th and 19th century England mercury was used in the production of felt, which was used in the manufacturing of hats common of the time. People who worked in these hat factories were exposed daily to trace amounts of the metal, which accumulated within their bodies over time, causing some workers to develop dementia caused by mercury poisoning (called mad hatter syndrome). Thus, the phrase became popular as a way to refer to someone who was perceived as insane.

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  5. Might just suggest this as a theme tea for one of our charity fund raiser's......so long as I do not have to make the food! Why did I not think of this for one of my daughter's birthday parties.

    Think baby showers are an American idea have never heard of one here,what does it celebrate?

    I did not like the book,found it very unsettling.Judith/Ida

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    1. Oh do let us know if your charity has a party with this theme.

      Ah, the baby showers: Thrown for expectant mothers in order to honor impending birth. In the yester days they were a simple affair, but not so any more. The honoree chooses stores, picks out what she wants and invitees are given her list! Just like with brides and their silver/china/crystal selections.

      In both bridal and baby showers, the invitees are expected to completely furnish honorees with everything they need and/or desire.

      I think it's an "arrogant" thing to do (just my opinion).

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  6. Enjoyed the tea party, sis. Loved seeing all the pictures and colorful things you included. Very cute - maybe we need to have one on Saturday!

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    1. Well, we could, you know. Bring your hat!

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  7. Great pictures and great ideas - I enjoyed today's tea party very much. That teapot lamp shade is quite the business. When my grandchildren are a bit older, I would love to try such a theme party for them. I remember seeing the Disney movie when I was very young, and thought Alice was so pretty.

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    1. The movie Alice was much prettier than the Tenniel drawing (where she looked pouty and unhappy, perhaps because she was!)

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  8. Where did you get such an old copy of that book? Is that where the nonsensical poem Jabberwocky came from? My grandmother would recite that by memory. My mother's family considered this to be an adult book, so I was surprised that it was written for children. And I never read it as a child.
    Not just because it is Tea Party Thursday, I spent an hour in a really big Tea Shop in Wichita today. I came home with four new types to try. The most interesting sounding one is an Irish Cream Tea. It is very finely "chopped", supposedly to make the tea bolder. (That's what the clerk said.)

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    1. That book image is one I got on the web; not my own. As I understand it, Jabberwocky comes from another book by Lewis Carroll, published 10 years after Alice in Wonderland. It was called "Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There." The poem Jabberwocky appears in that book.

      I'm so jealous that you found a tea shop (none around here). That Irish Cream Tea sounds delicious. I like my tea BOLD.

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  9. As a child I found the book eery too. I think it's not really appropriate for small children, way too much nonsense and violence. The first time I read I was about 7 or 8, right after I learned to read. I remeber being quite disturbed by it. I still think it requires an adult to read and interpret the book, so that it comes ourt more playful and fun. I think a tea party interpreting the book for a child's birthday party would be an excellent example of make the text in the book lighter and more approachable.

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    1. It IS an eery story and I think Disney had to "Americanize" it to make it palatable for young children. You have to admit those Tenniel drawings of the characters are quite scary, while the Disney ones are sweet.

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  10. Such wonderful party!! My twins will turn 5 soon and they want a cartoon themed bash at garden party event venues so I was looking for something inspirational and easy. I think this theme will be just perfect for them. Gratitude for this idea.

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